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GolfWRX Morning 9: Better matchups than Tiger-Phil | Remembering the Skins Game | More arguments for watching The Match

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving, golf fans. I’m truly thankful for all of you that open this email every day (and only slightly less thankful for those of you who only open it some days). But truly, wishing you the best this holiday.
1. Instead of Tiger-Phil…
Michael Collins put down the microphone and stopped posting to social media long enough to do a bit of writing for ESPN. He proposes alternatives to the Tiger-Phil match that he’d rather see. Good stuff!
  • “Patrick Reed vs. Jordan Spieth...I know Reed would do most of the smack-talking — until Spieth got to a boiling point. That’s what everyone would be paying to see.”
  • “Dustin Johnson vs. Brooks Koepka…You’ll have to keep checking your television to make sure it’s not on mute. It won’t be. Oh, it’ll feel like it though. Silence. That’s exactly how much talking will be going on. They might mumble a word or two to each other, and we know what that would sound like. So … Vegas side bet: Over/under on how many times you hear “bro” or “brah” is set at 125.”
  • “Justin Thomas vs. Ian Poulter…Here’s the rule: Neither of them can talk. Just let them be surrounded by hecklers and see what happens. Poulter’s hecklers are chosen from Twitter and Thomas’ come only from select Auburn fans.”
2. Meanwhile, in Melbourne…
BBC Report…”England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter hold a share of the lead after the first round of the World Cup of Golf in Australia. In the opening round of fourballs, the pair shot a bogey-free 10-under par round of 62 in Melbourne.”
“They are level with Australia’s Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith as well as South Korean duo Kim Si-woo and An Byeong-hun. The two-man teams compete in alternate shot foursomes in Friday’s round two.”
3. What the Tour will be watching during Tiger-Phil
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in May to overturn the 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states created a bold new landscape for all sports leagues, but particularly the Tour.”
  • “Assuming we get to the right place with fan protections and using the right data, our sport is in such a unique position,” Monahan said. “You look at the stick-and-ball sports, you see the ball, there’s one ball and one group of players that are all in front of you. You can see everything on one screen.
  • “In our sport, you’ve got 78 players out on the golf course at one point in time and we’ve got a system in ShotLink that produces a significant amount of data and a significant amount of possibilities. Think about what that can mean for our game, for our fans, it’s exciting.”
  • Those possibilities will get something of a cold open on Friday when Mickelson and Woods tee off at Shadow Creek. Although some say The Match is a decade too late, it’s a perfect model for officials to gauge fan interest of potential “in-play” betting. Although the Tour doesn’t have any historical data about Shadow Creek, Mickelson’s track record from, say, 10 feet (he ranked 164th last season on Tour with a 33.8 percent conversion) is well documented.
4. Another defense of The Match
This time, it’s Adam Woodard at USA Today telling you why you should watch. Countless (like, 4) reasons, he says.
  • A bit of his argument…”Both players won a PGA Tour event last season. Mickelson won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, an event where only the world’s best qualify, and Woods won the Tour Championship, the final event of the Tour season featuring the year’s top 30 players.”
  • “Sponsors put up the $9 million prize, but Woods and Mickelson will pony up some of their own money on side bets throughout the competition, with all the money going to charity. On Tuesday, Mickelson baited Woods into a $200,000 bet that he will birdie the opening hole. Expect plenty more just like that.”
  • “Other expected bets will be long drive and closest-to-the-pin contests, with both players also likely proposing money challenges on putts and up-and-downs. The bets will likely be in the range of $10,000 to $50,000 per wager.”
  • “Both players and their caddies will be wearing microphones. Drone coverage will deliver “camera angles that have never been seen before for a live golf event,” according to a Turner Sports press release. Real-time, hole-by-hole statistics on the screen will display the probability of different outcomes.”
5. Remembering the Skins Game
Excellent stuff from Alex Myers at Golf Digest remembering the dearly departed Skins Game.
  • He rounds up a few of the most memorable moments, including…”Tom Watson accused Gary Player of cheating…”For the most part, the Skins Game epitomized hit-and-giggle golf, but things got a bit testy between two of the game’s legends during the inaugural event in 1983. With $120,000 on the line on the 16th hole, Watson was overheard confronting Player about allegedly illegally improving his lie by patting down a root behind his ball. Here’s what New York Times columnist Dave Anderson wrote:”
  • “From 30 feet away, Tom Watson could be heard saying, ‘I’m accusing you, Gary … you can’t do that … I’m tired of this … I wasn’t watching you, but I saw it.’ Gary Player could be heard defending himself, saying at one point, ‘I was within the rules.'”
  • “Watson maintained his belief that Player-knowingly or unknowingly-cheated and issued a statement the following day that said in part, “If we overlook the rules, then the game as we know it would become something much less than it is. My greatest regret, though, is that this private matter became a public incident.”
6. Vic Open, featuring men and women, will be co-sanctioned by LPGA Tour (Euro Tour too)
AP Report…”Golf Australia says the 2019 Vic Oen, which features both men and women playing simultaneously, will be co-sanctioned by the LPGA tour….The men’s portion of the tournament has already been announced to be on the European Tour next year.”
“Golf Australia said Wednesday the Vic Open will be held at 13th Beach Golf Links west of Melbourne from Feb. 7-10….The Women’s Australian Open, which has been on the LPGA tour for eight years, will now be part of a two-week Australian swing.”
7. Jack Nicklaus, President Trump tee it up
AP Report…”President Donald Trump is spending the first day of his Thanksgiving break taking advantage of the good golfing weather.”
  • “White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham says the president was playing “a quick round” on Wednesday with golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Nicklaus’s professional golfer son Gary, and his grandson G.T.”
  • “The trip is Trump’s first of the season to his private Mar-a-Lago club, where he typically spends Thanksgiving, Christmas and many winter weekends.”
8. Top Tiger-Phil showdowns
Great stuff from the Golfweek staff rounding up the best Woods-Mickelson showdowns from the past two decades.
  • It’d be unfair to just poach their No. 1 entry, so here’s No. 2…”2007 Deutsche Bank Championship”
  • “This is, without a doubt, Mickelson’s most impressive triumph in a duel with Woods. Mickelson began the final round two back and Woods was three behind. With this duo paired together and playing well that Monday, it would ultimately come down to them.”
  • “Lefty piled up five birdies in the opening 10 holes and was so dominant early on that this appeared it would be a rout. In fact, Woods was five back of Mickelson with seven to play. But the pressure would intensify. Mickelson made a sloppy double bogey at the 12th and Woods buried a 40-footer for birdie at the 14th to cut the lead to two.”
  • “The climax arrived at the par-3 16th, where Woods stepped up and knocked his tee shot to 10 feet. Mickelson answered in the cauldron by stuffing his approach 6 feet under the hole. Woods rolled in his birdie putt, but Mickelson calmly buried his own to retain an important two-shot margin.”
  • “It was a huge moment for Mickelson – who would go on to win by two shots – proving he could outduel Woods as Lefty was in the major-winning phase of his career.”
9. The biggest influence on your child’s development in sports
Interesting piece, as our Thomas Devine, a junior golf instructor and director of the Future Elite Junior Golf Programme, weighs in on the most important elements in a child’s athletic development.
  • He offers this in conclusion…”Whilst participation development models that acknowledge physical, technical, and other assets do hold great value, a model that completely disregards any social aspects of development has to be questioned. Below are the important take home points”
  • “Social aspects underpin everything we do and an acknowledgement of unique social situations is paramount in youth development…Luck can often play a huge part in youth development…Children should not be judged or selected based upon something that is out of their control….Be aware of relative age effect/biological age…..(but, do not make it your priority as neurological age is more important than biological age!!…Talking to parents and children is the key catalyst to bridging the gap between development and social issues….The relationships we develop with children are critical to motivations and lifelong participation.”
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  1. bill williams

    Nov 22, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    At least that five-some can walk and/or fly the golf course…. which is more than you can say about pot-bellied humans scurrying around in their golf carts.

    • ogo

      Nov 23, 2018 at 3:25 pm

      Turkeys can’t fly…. only waddle and gobble… and get roasted…!!

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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